My band, Ol’ Time Moonshine, is seeking a new bass player:
Please share to anyone in the GTA who might be interested!
My band, Ol’ Time Moonshine, is seeking a new bass player:
Please share to anyone in the GTA who might be interested!
I know the book’s been out for two years now, but this still got me excited!
“Taking numerous visual cues from Japanese cyberpunk films (particularly the Tetsuo trilogy), this breakneck thriller depicts the lives of the “runners,” a cult of seemingly immortal people chased through Toronto by their gun-toting “hunter” handlers in the hopes of getting shot up enough for their bodies to reach vaunted “100 percent metal content.” But as one of the runners gets close to his goal, his body begins to change in unexpected ways, triggering a different sort of chase through the city—a race to stop his terrifying transformation before it reaches its final phase. Savory’s slick prose is relentless, and the weird body horror and the plot’s weirder mysteries only help to strengthen the book’s surreal effect. While the unsettling transformations and unusual worldbuilding might not be for everyone, A Perfect Machine is entirely fearless in its commitment to going way too far, and that’s what makes it stand out.”
—Sam Reader, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
DANGER, ERRICK NUNNALLY—DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!
The Necon quad was packed, as usual. Writers drinking shit-tons of booze, and eating fuck-tons of saugies. Bracken MacLeod and Errick Danger Nunnally wore kilts, and shirts that read THING 1 and THING 2.
“Hey,” said Errick, motioning to Bracken. “Is that your robot?” He nodded his head in the robot’s direction. Bracken followed Errick’s gaze to a robot that looked similar to the one in Lost in Space.
“Nah,” Bracken replied, gulping vigorously from his hand-crafted IPA. “I think that’s Jim Moore’s. I heard he takes it everywhere he goes.”
Just then, Jim entered the quad, hugged a bunch of people really hard, coralled his robot (where it was entertaining a bevy of single ladies with sordid stories of its youth), and marched it over to Bracken and Errick.
“Hey, fellas, have you met Jordan?”
“You named your old-timey-looking robot ‘Jordan’?” Errick asked, incredulous.
“Sure, why not?” Jim said, and grinned wide.
“Well, why not something cooler, like ‘Heliox 7,’ or ‘Steel Pete’?”
“Those aren’t very good names, Errick.”
“I know, sorry. I panicked.”
“Anyway,” Jim continued, “the reason I brought Jordan over—besides the fact that Brett wrote it this way—is that I think it can help you settle on the title of your forthcoming ChiZine novel.”
“Uh, okay. I guess. What does it have in mind?”
“The question is,” Jim replied, and winked, “what doesn’t it have in mind?”
Bracken pounded the rest of his beer, used Errick’s belt buckle to open a fresh one, and said, “This is very unhelpful so far, Jim. You know that, right?”
Jim ignored Bracken, locked eyes with Errick. “What part of ‘infinite possibilities’ don’t you get, Errick?”
“‘Infinite possibilities’ is the problem, Jim. Too many choices.”
“Fine,” Jim said, suddenly crestfallen. “Arm wrestle my robot instead.”
“Do it. Arm wrestle him.”
“I will not.”
“Coward. What about you, Bracken? You think you’re so tough. Arm wrestle my FUCKING robot!”
“Whoa,” Bracken said. “Where’s all this hostility coming from?”
“No more Mr. Nice Jim,” Jim said, tears threatening. “And no more fucking hugs, either. Robots are the future, and I built one. Respect my talent in the burgeoning field of robotics right now, Errick Danger Nunnally, or I will tell my PERFECT GODDAMN ROBOT to rip your arms off and jam them up your GODDAMN STUPID ASS!”
Jim, red-faced and nearly foaming at the mouth, didn’t wait for a response. He simply pointed at Errick, and shouted, “MAKE HIM HURT!”
Errick leaped back quickly, but it was already too late. Jordan—lurching forward, saying, “Danger, Errick Nunnally! Danger, danger, DANGER!” (long walk for a terrible joke)—grabbed both of Errick’s wrists and yanked as hard as its machinery would allow. This amount of force turned out to be more than sufficient. Errick’s arms popped out of their shoulder sockets, and a quick-spray jet of blood splashed out of both holes, soaking Bracken and Jim Tarantino-style.
“Bam!” Jim shouted, and clapped his hands together once very hard.
“Jesus fuck!” yelled Bracken.
“Ahhhhhhhhh, Chriiiiiiiiiiiist!!!!!!” intoned Errick, falling over, more blood pumping out of his sockets, soaking the grass where he fell.
Jordan then made good on the rest of Jim’s order, much to everyone’s vomitous dismay: pants down, bloody arms rammed in as far as they could go.
Best Necon ever.
Here’s my robot-death story for Leigh Teetzel, entitled “Robot Fabio.” Enjoy!
“Enough of these fucking Fabios,” Leigh Teetzel said, pushed away from her desk, stood up, and went for lunch.
She had worked at Marlekwin—a publisher that produced bodice-rippers—for fifteen years now, and had seen more bullshit in print than she’d care to admit. Her job as an editor saw her routinely shovelling ten pounds of literary shit into a five-pound bag, which is what had been happening when, yet again, her upper Fabio limit had been reached, and she needed a break. This—coupled with the ridiculous behaviour of the women in most of these books—had again amounted to all she could take.
Also, it was lunchtime, and food in her belly usually calmed her down enough to dive back into the horror come 1 p.m.
She rode the elevator down to street level, headed over to the Starbucks inside the giant office building that housed the Marlekwin offices. She stood in line, muttering under her breath about Fabios and the useless women who loved them.
What do these women think they’re going to get when they marry these kinds of guys? They’re just meat with eyes, for chrissakes! And why do the women who write the damn books want to perpetuate this crap!?
She must have still been scowling when she got to the front of the line because the barista asked, “Why so glum!?” All cheery and full of beans.
She had the sudden urge to slap the ridiculous smile right off his hipster face.
Instead, she took a deep breath, and said simply, “Just work stress. Nothing that won’t pass.”
The guy nodded appreciatively. “Heh, yeah. We’ve all been there. Mondays, am I right?”
She forced a smile that looked like she’d just swallowed a bee. She tried to emit a chuckle, but a croak came out instead. Dropping the charade, she let her face fall, and said, “Just a large coffee, please. Black.”
“Robot Fabio?” the guy said.
Leigh was digging in her wallet for change, and didn’t hear what he’d said.
“Miss, you said, ‘Robot Fabio,’ right?”
This time she heard him. She looked up, faintly alarmed. “What did you say?”
The guy rolled his eyes a little. “Your order. Robot Fabio. Is that correct?”
Leigh just stared at him. “Uhhhhh . . .”
She turned around quickly to see if the guy behind her had heard the same thing. He just looked annoyed.
“I asked for a large black coffee.”
“Right,” the barista said. “Robot Fabio coming right up. Can I have a name for the order?”
“Excuse me, sorry. What’s a Robot Fabio, and why do you keep saying that’s my order?”
The barista looked confused. “Because that’s what you asked for. Can I have a name, please?”
“Leigh,” she said. “For a large black coffee, though, right?”
The barista scowled. “Yes, exactly. That’s what I said. Several times.” He walked away from the counter, went into the staff room.
Leigh wondered what the hell had just happened. She put her money on the counter for when the barista returned.
Moments later, a robot that vaguely resembled Fabio came out with the barista. It had apparently been put together without much care: the hair was clearly a women’s cheap wig; its pecs looked like stretched turkey skin, and the penis (which was, alarmingly, exposed) was quite obviously a fat pork sausage. The rest of the body was metal. It clanked across the floor, hydraulic noises accompanying every step. It reminded Leigh of the T-1000 in The Terminator—if it had been put together by a romance writer high as fuck on LSD.
The barista called out, “Robot Fabio! Robot Fabio for Leigh!”
Leigh wasn’t sure whether to run and hide, or put up her hand. In the end, it didn’t matter. Robot Fabio spotted her, and came out from behind the counter. “Hello, Leigh,” it said, amiably enough, its voice sounding like a digitized version of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.
Up close, it was even more horrific. The metal of its face looked melted, and now she could see that it used to have skin, but it had been burned off at some point. Tatters of it still clung to the steel here and there, like a robotic Leatherface.
She backed up as it came closer. She turned to look at the other patrons, assuming she’d see looks of horror on their faces, too, but they only looked annoyed. The guy who’d been behind her in line, said, “Jeez, lady, what’s with all the drama? Just take your order and go already.”
Robot Fabio clunked past her, opened the door, said, “After you!”
Leigh shot out the door as quickly as she could, making sure to stay as far away from the thing as possible.
When they got outside, it looked down at her, its demeanour changing instantly. It leaned down next to her ear, whispered, “I’ve heard everything you’ve said about my kind, and the women who love us.”
It stood up again, grinned horribly, then ripped Leigh limb from limb right there in the street. It tore her to pieces, blood slashing passersby, the pavement, the flowers. Then it skinned her remains, using the tattered pieces of flesh as its own.
It shuffled into the Starbucks, went back behind the counter, into the staff room.
Where it waited to be summoned again.
Here’s my robot-death story for John Eddison! (John is a friend, so this one revolves around an inside joke—basically, John likes to yell out “VERY GOOD!” between songs when he goes to metal shows.)
The year is 2093 . . .
At the Deep Space Gateway, no one can hear you scream.
Well, except people that are, like, super-close to you when you scream. Those people can still hear you. But nobody else. . . . Except maybe if you have, like, a comms channel open, then whoever’s on the receiving end—assuming they’re paying attention—they’ll probably hear you, too.
But nobody else!
And the Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is where we find our hero, Sir John Eddison. He had been knighted by the Queen back on earth thirteen years ago for his contributions in the field of quantum tectonics. (Don’t look that up; it’s probably not a thing.)
Anyway, Sir John was an astronaut now, and he’d been sent to the DSG to help launch a human-shaped robot into space. It had been designed to look like an especially fearsome-looking human so that if it came into contact with aliens, it would immediately strike fear into their hearts (assuming the aliens had hearts, of course). Earth had long ago given up the idea of making peace with intergalactic species—there was so little room left on earth these days that all we wanted to do was pillage and rape the cosmos. Every dime of every nations’ space programs had gone into building this terrifying robot ship. It was our last ditch effort to get off this collapsing rock, and Sir John was in charge of its launch.
On board were a bunch of highly trained space marines—very much like the ones in ALIENS. They’d even named themselves after the characters in that film. Sir John was not on board with these space marines, but was in a little launch shack separated from the ship. It was a tiny little shed with just enough room for the launch controls and the person operating them. He’d been told it was this small because they’d run out of money building the giant robot.
The design they’d decided on to strike universal fear into the galaxy was Gort, the robot from the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. There was no reason to think that other species would see this design as frightening, but we only had our own fears to go on, so after much hand-wringing, that’s the direction they went.
So today was the big day—launch day! In T-minus 20 seconds, Sir John would launch this fearsome battle-ready beast into the unknown, where it would presumably eventually run into aliens, which it would enslave, destroy, and ultimately conquer. Then we’d steal all their shit, and ruin their planet, just like we’ve done to ours.
It was very exciting, and Sir John was the most excited of anyone. He’d dreamed of this day since he was a small boy—ruining the galaxy for his own selfish desires—and he was beyond honoured to be the one pushing the button that would set it all in motion!
5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . !
With a giant smile on his bearded face, Sir John pushed the ignition button . . . and was instantly vapourized as the rockets—which had been placed in the robot’s anus—fired up. His scorched corpse blasted out the back end of his little shack, and disappeared into the void of space.
You see, unbeknownst to Sir John, one of the engineers that helped build the colossal robot was also a musician who played in a heavy metal band that Sir John would often go to see. Over the years, Sir John had gained a reputation for yelling out “VERY GOOD” between songs and, while most bands found this behaviour profoundly endearing, this particular engineer was not impressed at all, and had grown to loathe Sir John. His hatred festered, and had culminated in hatching a complex plan to make sure Sir John was the one to be in the launch shed on this celebrated day in history.
His plan came off without a hitch—right down to slightly angling the anus rockets so that they would blast apart the launch shed.
Sir John had been sharted out into space, never to be seen again.
Down on earth, at mission control, the engineer narrowed his eyes to slits, and whispered, “Very good.”
My first 500-word robot-death story in a while—this one for Andrew Russo. It’s called “Fred.”
The last time I saw my robot, Fred, he was walking out of the house with a gun.
The safe it had been in was locked, and Fred didn’t have the combination—but that didn’t matter because he just busted open the safe.
I tried to call him back, but he was determined. He marched straight out the door, and didn’t look back.
It was only after turning on the news an hour later that I knew where he’d gone.
Based on the news reports I saw both on TV and online, Fred had walked into a nearby elementary school and opened fire. He shot and killed eleven children and four teachers.
When a robot goes haywire and decides to shoot up a school, you don’t hear about the wounded; there are only those who get killed and those who survive without a scratch.
A ten-year-old girl used her cell phone amidst the shooting to call 911. The police arrived very quickly, located Fred, and shot him twice in the head with special bullets made specifically to kill robots.
Once the smoke had cleared, and the dead catalogued, the police searched the robot for its identification number, which would link it back to me as it owner.
When they knocked on my door, I didn’t resist.
No details that came forward later helped explain why Fred did what he did. No system malfunctions were found when they gutted him, so I was subsequently found not guilty of all criminal responsibility.
When I was released, I went home and watched and read as much as I could online about the killings. One story that emerged, and was mentioned over and over again to the point of going viral, was about one of the teachers who died—a man named Andrew Russo. When Fred came into the classroom and started shooting, kids scattered everywhere. Most of them were mowed down, but one of them survived because Andrew dove on top of her—a little girl named Micaylah Spencer. Andrew took seven bullets to the back and neck for her. Fred hadn’t turned quickly enough to see that Andrew had dived on top of her, so she lived.
I lay awake most nights wondering if there was something I could have done, something I could have said to have stopped Fred from murdering those kids and teachers. I saw no warning signs, no mood changes in him, nothing. He just woke up that morning, and decided to ruin all those lives for no reason, no purpose that anyone could discern.
I have recurring nightmares that Andrew Russo is standing at the foot of my bed, bleeding, filled with holes. He stares at me, says things, mouth moving, but I hear nothing.
I stare back at him, my mouth moving, too, maybe apologizing, I don’t know.
But he cannot hear me, either.
Here’s my 6th robot-death story, this one for David Demchuk!
THE BORSCHT MOTHER
“What’s that thing, mum?”
Little Davey Demchuk sat at the kitchen table, a bowl of borscht in front of him, spoon at the ready. It hovered there, frozen, as the object at the far end of the table caught his eye.
“That’s a matryoshka doll,” his mother replied.
“What’s a matter-yosker doll?”
His mother laughed. She turned from the stove where she was ladling borscht into her own bowl, walked toward her chair, sat down. She put the bowl in front of her, then picked up the doll. “Matryoshka dolls are nested inside each other, starting with a big one, and getting smaller and smaller as you open them up. Want to see?”
“Yeah!” Little Davey said.
“Okay, watch.” His mother opened the first doll to reveal a slightly smaller one inside. Then another, and another. Davey’s eyes widened with each opening until she got to the last one, which looked impossibly small to Davey. They were now all lined up in a row on the table.
“Wow!” he said, and smiled from ear to ear.
“Yes, very neat, wouldn’t you say?” His mother beamed just as widely as her son at his happiness. It had always been this way. She lived for him, and he for her.
“Hey,” Davey said, his smile suddenly slipping from his face, “what’s that one doing, mum?”
“What one, darling?” she said, and looked down, following his gaze.
The largest of the dolls seemed to be putting itself back together. The two pieces were slowly but surely coming together again all on their own. Mother and son just stared as this happened. Davey’s mother instantly thought it was a curse coming to bear on them, some punishment coming due. Davey just thought it was awesome.
Once the biggest one had put itself together, the second biggest started doing the same thing—and on down the line. Davey’s mother pushed her chair back very slowly while they did this, as if any sudden movement might alert them to her presence.
When they were all fully back together, they started to move. Davey’s mother stood up and shrieked, knocking her chair over in the process.
It sounded to Davey like little gears were moving inside the dolls. It was faint, but he was sure he could hear it.
“Mum, what do we do?” Davey asked and, for the first time, felt the sting of terror in his heart. He pushed his own chair back, and ran quickly to his mother. She hugged him to her side. Davey buried his face in her chest. He was more afraid of her reaction than of the little dolls themselves.
But that was about to change.
The whirring of the gears got louder, and the dolls formed a tight circle. They began vibrating, jittering on the table, as if communicating with each other. A two-inch spike suddenly shot out of each of the dolls’ chests. They turned toward Davey and his mother, the vibrating becoming more forceful until they were bouncing all over the table.
That’s when they struck.
They launched themselves from the table en masse, and drove their spikes into Davey’s mother’s head. Most of them landed on the top of her skull, but the smaller ones wound up on her face, dotting her cheeks and forehead, still whirring with life.
Davey batted at them with his little hands, but it did nothing. They were stuck in hard.
Strangely, his mother did not scream, or struggle in any way. She just stood there with the dolls all over her head, and stared forward. The dolls stopped wriggling then, their gears winding down. Whatever they’d done to his mother, it was over. They sat motionless on her skin.
Then she spoke:
“More soup?” she said, her voice inflectionless. It no longer sounded at all like Davey’s mother.
Davey began to cry.
She moved to the stove, picked up the ladle there, and stirred the soup. “Sit down,” she said in her weird new voice, “and we’ll have more soup. Borscht is best served with love. And my love for you is forever. It will never, ever die. Sit down, darling. Sit down.”
Davey walked slowly to his chair, sat down, still bawling, tears obscuring his vision.
His mother stirred the soup fast for a minute, then slowed down more and more until Davey calmed down a bit, tears drying on his face. His breath still came in hitches, but his vision had cleared, and he could think somewhat straight again.
“Mom?” he said quietly—almost too quietly to be heard. But the new mother heard him. She would always be able to hear her only son, no matter where he went, and no matter how quiet he became.
Instead of answering in words, she suddenly stopped stirring the soup, and turned to face her son.
As little Davey watched, a thin crack formed down one side of her body, opening, opening . . .
Inside, he saw another mother. A slightly smaller version. And then that version opened, too.
On and on, deeper and deeper inside, until this new being, this flayed mother, stood before him. Red the colour of beetroot.
Davey’s tears came harder this time, obscuring his vision once again. He bowed his head, unable to look at the creature anymore.
And when it finally spoke, it did not speak of love.